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Published in News on by Lin Chabra

MIIA workshops to cover workplace safety, stress management

By Lin Chabra

MIIA workshops at this year’s MMA Annual Meeting will cover important topics relevant to all municipalities: How compliance with workplace safety regulations is a good investment, and new strategies for dealing with stress.

 Workplace safety

Representatives from the New England Consortium at UMass Lowell – the region’s model as a worker health and safety training organization – will lead a seminar titled, “Maximize the Return on Your Investment in Workplace Safety.” Attendees will learn how compliance with federal regulations provides a return many times over in terms of reducing accidents, controlling losses, managing risk, and creating a safer workplace.

Tom Estabrook, Ph.D, a health and safety trainer with the consortium for 20 years, and Bridget McGuiness, a trainer for 10 years, will cover the benefits of investing money, personnel, and other valuable resources toward worker health and safety.

Attendees will learn about U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations, as well as how to apply safety analyses and controls that can be implemented locally now, with positive, immediate effects on health and safety. For example, failure to properly implement OSHA construction standards, which address falls, “struck by,” electrical and “caught in” hazards, contribute to thousands of worker fatalities, injuries and illnesses annually.

According to OSHA, the “fatal four” safety hazards — falls, electrocutions, “struck by,” and “caught in” – were responsible for more than 60 percent of construction-related deaths in 2014. Eliminating these dangers, OSHA reports, would save roughly 545 workers’ lives in the United States each year.

Municipal workers frequently work in hazardous environments, such as in trenches and construction and work zones, as well as with heavy equipment.

Estabrook and McGuiness will review existing opportunities that municipalities have to leverage safety compliance as part of longer-range planning efforts.

The workshop, to be held on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2-3:30 p.m., will be beneficial for managers, department heads, job supervisors, foremen, and program personnel.

 Stress strategies

The workshop “Understanding and Managing Stress” will be led by Cally Ritter, Employee Assistance Program consultant for MIIA and training director for AllOne Health.

The workshop will emphasize mindsets related to stress, as opposed to eliminating stressors.

“This is different than what attendees will have read or heard at any other seminars,” Ritter said, “because we are not going to talk about how you need to be better about managing stress.”

Ritter said it’s nearly impossible to reduce stressors. Instead, she will cover a range of scientific stress research, highlighting how the way one thinks about stress can have a positive impact on health and outcomes.

For example, research by Stanford professor Alia Crum has proven that a positive stress mindset – that is, viewing it as a helpful part of life – can contribute to improved physical health, emotional health and productivity.

“This will be a stress mindset intervention,” Ritter said. “There will be a high percentage of people who leave the workshop with an entirely different view of stress.”

If people can change their view of stress, she said, they will find that stress can make us better, smarter, more generous and more courageous.

Ritter will cover “fight or flight” responses to stress, as well as how to trigger the two other stress responses: the “challenge response” and the “tend and befriend response.”

The workshop will be held on Friday, Jan. 20, 2-3:30 p.m.

 MIIA Rewards

MIIA members are eligible for Rewards credits for attending the following Annual Meeting workshops:


• “Labor Law Update”

  • “Understanding and Managing Stress”

• “Water Infrastructure Funding Challenges”


• “Conducting an Investigative Audit”

• “Maximize the Return on Your Investment in Workplace Safety”

• “Municipal Law Update”

• Understanding Municipal Responsibilities Under the New Public Records Law”

 Longevity and wellness

Researchers have discovered clusters of centenarians living in the healthiest “blue zone” hot spots of the world, including Sardinia, Crete, Ikaria, Okinawa, Costa Rica, and Loma Linda, California.

In a series of booths at the MMA Trade Show, MIIA will highlight through interactive displays how communities can adopt similar healthy practices that are proven to increase longevity. Common practices of people who live the longest include putting family first, having strong faith, following a greens-rich diet, and moving with purpose.

Visitors to the MIIA Wellness booths (306-311) can learn how the practices of the blue zone centenarians can be put into daily use, such as through mindful meditation, relaxation, community involvement, exercise, and healthy eating. At the main MIIA booth (901), visitors can earn prizes for taking a quiz related to longevity hot spots and healthy practices.


Lin Chabra is MIIA’s Membership Training Coordinator.

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